New Releases for the Week of October 5, 2018


VENOM

(Columbia/Marvel) Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Lee, Sope Aluko, Reid Scott, Mac Brandt, Melora Walters. Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Investigative reporter Eddie Brock tries to redeem himself following a scandal following a government experiment involving an alien symbiotic lifeform but accidentally becomes infected by the symbiote. He becomes Venom, a violent and often malevolent entity who has his own agenda but with a shadowy organization with nefarious ambitions of the own trying to develop their own version, the alien and the reporter realize their interests intersect.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, 3D, DBOX, DBOX 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, RPX, RPX 3D, XD, XD 3D
Genre: Superhero
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language)

A Star is Born

(Warner Brothers) Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle. The latest version of a timeless classic finds a grizzled musician with a rosier past than future falling for a young woman who has given up on her dream of stardom. He coaxes her into the spotlight and her career immediately takes off but the higher she soars, the more strain on their relationship is placed particularly since he has a substance abuse problem that is putting everything in jeopardy. Cooper also makes his directorial debut.

See the trailer, a video featurette and a music video here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, Dolby
Genre: Musical
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse)

The Church

(Hard Floor) Clint Howard, Bill Moseley, Ashley C. Williams, Meghan Strange. The minister of a once vibrant and iconic Baptist church in a decaying Philadelphia neighborhood resists gentrification despite pleas from his status-seeking wife and bribes from unscrupulous developers. He is determined to preserve the legacy of his family’s ministry in the neighborhood even if he has to break a few commandments to do it!

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs

Rating: PG-13 (for some violent content and thematic materials)

Mandy

(RLJE) Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke. A peaceful couple living in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest has their lives shattered by a twisted cult leader who develops an obsession with Mandy, the distaff half of the couple. Red, the male half, is forced to go on a journey of vengeance, blood, fire and rage.

See the trailer and video featurettes here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: NR

Monsters and Men

(Neon) Anthony Ramos, John David Washington, Nicole Beharie, Cara Buono. A young man with a promising athletic future witnesses a police shooting, recording it on his cellphone. He has the valuable proof that will validate the assertion that it was unjustified but releasing the footage could jeopardize his future.

See the trailer and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for language)

Pick of the Litter

(Sundance Selects) Dana Nachman, Don Hardy Jr. This documentary follows a litter of puppies from the moment of their birth through the two years of training to be service dogs for the blind. The bar is set high and not every dog makes the cut. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, the film provides insight as to how dogs go from unruly pups to disciplined service animals.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: NR

Shine

(GVN) Jorge Burgos, Gilbert Saldivar, Jadi Collado, Alysia Reiner. Two salsa dancing Puerto Rican brothers in Spanish Harlem are estranged by a family tragedy. Years later they have chosen different paths; one looking for success as a real estate developer, the other devoted to preserving their old neighborhood at all costs. What’s a dancer to do…except dance?

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Urban Dance
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, AMC West Oaks, Cobb Plaza Café Cinema, Old Mill Playhouse, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes

Rating: NR

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Andhadhun
Bayou Caviar
Exes Baggage
Nota
Ride

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE:

96
A Crooked Somebody
Exes Baggage
Fats Buddies
The Hate U Give
Hello, Mrs. Money
Nota
Prathamika Shale, Kasargud, Koduge Ramanna Rai
The Sisters Brothers

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG:

96
A Crooked Somebody
Loveyatri
Loving Pablo
Nota
Pariyerum Perumal
Raatchasan
Ride
Tea With the Dames
Varathan
Viking Destiny

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

96
Andhadhun
Exes Baggage
Nota

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

A Star is Born
The Church
Mandy
Pick of the Litter
Tea With the Dames
Venom

FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:

Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Tampa, FL)

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Pick of the Litter – October 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Venom

(Columbia) Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate. A photojournalist is infected with a malevolent alien symbiote whose moral compass doesn’t exactly point in the same direction as the host. However, the two will not only have to co-exist but the human half must allow the symbiote to take over so as to utilize the incredible powers it gives him if he is to stay alive.  October 5

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Happy Prince

(Sony Classics) Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson. Everett (who also co-wrote and directed this film) stars as Oscar Wilde, one of the greatest English writers of all time and at one time, the toast of London. Known for his biting wit, Wilde ran afoul of the law due to his sexual predilections which in Victorian England were forbidden. This story is about the last days of his life as he views his failures and his troubles with humor and ironic detachment.  October 5

22 July

(Netflix) Thorbjørn Harr, Anders Danielsen Lie, Jon Ølgarden, Jonas Strand Gravli. Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass returns with another true story-based film for the streaming giant. The narrative feature documents the terrorist attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 when a deranged right wing terrorist detonated a bomb in the central government district in Oslo and followed up two hours later by attacking a summer camp run by the ruling party with rifles and handguns. All in all, 69 people (mainly teens and young people) were killed at the camp and an additional eight in the bombing. It was Norway’s deadliest day since World War II.. October 10

Beautiful Boy

(Amazon) Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan. Based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff, a loving father and son try to cope with addiction over the course of many years. Carell gives a performance that some are already touting for Oscar recognition. October 12

I Still See You

(Lionsgate) Bella Thorne, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Price-Francis, Richard Harmon. A massive event has caused the deaths of a vast percentage of the population; the dead however continue to be seen as ghosts who while visible cannot communicate or interact with the living. One young woman, struggling to study the phenomenon, becomes the target of a malevolent entity which may be able to reach out and touch the living and not in a good way. Chalk this one up to “an interesting premise.”. October 12

Liyana

(Abramorama) Gcina Mhlophe, Shofela Coker. A teacher in Swaziland assigns five children to write a story about a young girl their age on a quest that reflects their culture. Their story is captured in dazzling animation while the children’s lives are caught in live action documentary. This is a magical union between reality and imagination. October 12

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

(Fox Searchlight) Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone. Lee Israel is an author without an audience. Once a bestselling biographer of celebrities along the lines of Katherine Hepburn and Estee Lauder in the 70s and 80s, she has fallen out of step with public tastes. Desperate for income, she resorts to deception abetted by her loyal friend Jack. File this under “You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up.” October 19

Mid90s

(A24) Sonny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston, Na-Kel Smith. A 13-year old in L.A. during the 90s has to deal with a group of skater friends and a troubled home life. Directed by Jonah Hill, the movie has been getting quite a lot of buzz even before its debut at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival. October 19

 What We Had

(Bleecker Street) Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Blythe Danner. With four leads as good as any you’ll see in a single film this year, this Oscar contender stars Swank as a woman who gets an urgent phone all from her brother in the middle of the night. Her mother who has a degenerative Alzheimer’s-like disease is becoming too difficult to manage at home but her father stubbornly refuses to let go of the life they have together.. October 19

Border

(Neon) Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Viktor Åkerblom, Rakel Warmlander. A Swedish customs officer becomes fascinated with the subject she is investigating but the more she finds out about him, the more she realizes that the two of them are linked in a way she couldn’t prepare herself for. The winner of Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, it is also Sweden’s official submission for the 2019 Foreign Film Oscar. October 26

The Dark

(Dark Sky) Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Marcovics, Margerete Tiesel. Look, it’s Halloween, right? You gotta have a horror film on this list and this film might just be the best  of the bunch. In a stretch of cursed woods, an undead teen girl meets a blind living boy. Both have been the victims of terrifying abuse. They find solace in each other but even in cursed woods the world won’t let them alone. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but it might take a body count to get there. October 26

The Wolverine


Hugh Jackman is pissed off they started shooting the new X-Men movie without him.

Hugh Jackman is pissed off they started shooting the new X-Men movie without him.

(2013) Superhero (20th Century Fox) Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Famke Janssen, Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Ken Yamamura, Nobutaka Aoyagi, Seiji Funamoto, Shinji Ikefuji, Qyoko Kudo, Nobuaki Kakuda, Chiharu Mizuno, Conrad Coleby, Taris Tyler. Directed by James Mangold

Nobody wants to live forever. Just ask somebody who actually might, like Logan – better known as the Wolverine (Jackman).

He is in self-imposed exile, sleeping in the frigid cold and rain, staying away as much as possible from other humans. After the death of his love Jean Grey (Janssen) at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand he has come to realize that he is going to watch everyone and everything he loves die, and in some cases be responsible for those deaths. Eternity can be long and slow and painful.

But he is found by a red-headed perky Japanese woman named Yukio (Fukushima) who is quite handy with a blade herself. She’s got that mischievous schoolgirl quality that Japanese women are fond of cultivating these days but she has an offer for Logan – to accompany her to Japan to bid farewell to her employer, Yashida (Yamanouchi) who had been a guard at the POW camp Logan had been interred in near Nagasaki and whose kindness had saved Logan’s life – a favor which the Wolverine felt obliged to return.

Yashida is dying but his doctor – who we will come to know as the Viper (Khodchenkova) – has discovered a way to transfer Logan’s mutant healing power to Yashida. Logan is skeptical and decides to pass. As he stays the night he meets Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto) whose brutal father Shingen (Sanada) will inherit the multi-billion dollar tech company Yashida built.

But Yashida had other plans for his money  and his company – he means to leave them to his granddaughter which throws things up into disarray. The Japanese Yakuza stage an attack at a sacred ritual in an attempt to kidnap Mariko. She is protected by her childhood friend and expert archer Harada (Lee) but  the numbers are overwhelming and Logan, who had sworn to forego his heroic past is sucked into the fray.

Based on one of the most popular storylines of the Wolverine’s four-color career, this portrayal of the X-Man is to my mind the closest to how the character behaves in the comic book. Not only did Jackman bulk up severely (which I’m sure the ladies will appreciate during his many shirtless scenes) but he is accessing a darker side of the character; not quite the anti-hero he would become but certainly a character with a rigid code that is mirrored by that of the Japanese samurai and ninja codes.

Unfortunately not all of the other characters hold up to Jackman’s Wolverine, particularly Mariko whose character is a typical damsel in distress. Of course, Wolverine develops a thing for her but for the life of me I can’t really figure out why. Rebound relationship, I guess. Yukio is far more interesting and in many ways, more suitable as a romantic partner for Logan but love doesn’t always go in the obvious direction.

There are plenty of terrific action sequences, particularly a chase scene on a bullet train in which Wolverine and several Yakuza assassins do battle on top of the train whizzing at 300 mph through Tokyo. It’s one of the most edge-of-your-seat action sequences you’re likely to see all year. There are several others which are nearly as good.

Unfortunately there are also long dry spells in which Logan seems to be recovering from injuries (his healing abilities are compromised during the film) and time after time we see blurry pictures of a wobbly Wolverine as he comes close to passing out. No mas, amigos.

While some of the conceits of the movie stretch believability quite a bit, still this is a slam-bang action movie that not only fleshes out the character of Logan quite a bit but also explores mortality and the culture of honor which is often circumvented by ambition. While standouts have been few this summer, this is a solid action movie that will keep you well-entertained and might resonate enough to warrant adding it to your home video collection when the time comes.

REASONS TO GO: Better and more faithful to the four color version of Wolverine. Amazing action sequences.

REASONS TO STAY: Silly in places. Drags a bit. Mariko comes off as bland.

FAMILY VALUES:  Plenty of action and violence, a small amount of gore, some sexuality and a bit of bad language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The movie is being released in Japan a month after it is in most of the rest of the world to avoid coming out near the anniversary of Nagasaki which figures heavily in the movie.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 8/6/13: Rotten Tomatoes: 68% positive reviews. Metacritic: 60/100.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Black Rain

FINAL RATING: 6.5/10

NEXT: Monty Python and the Holy Grail